What Happens When You Run Out of Houses or Hotels in Monopoly?

Monopoly board game

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

The popular board game Monopoly comes with a limited supply of 32 houses and 12 hotels that players can purchase to enhance their properties and increase the rent they charge other players. When the buildings have been purchased and are in use in the game, you cannot purchase any more houses and hotels.

How Houses and Hotels Return to the Monopoly Bank

As the game continues, some houses and hotels will likely be returned to the bank and become available for purchase again. This happens when:

  • A player goes bankrupt and returns his or her houses and hotels to the bank.
  • A player chooses to sell his or her houses or hotels back to the bank at half the purchase price to pay a bill.
  • A player buys a hotel and returns the houses that were previously on the property to the bank.

When houses or hotels are returned to the bank, they are available for purchase by any player at their original price. If more than one player wants to purchase the same buildings, bidding commences and the buildings go to the highest bidder.

If a player wants to build a house on a property and no houses are available, he or she cannot build. The same is true if a player wants to build a hotel and no hotels are available.

Illustration of Monopoly board
The Spruce / Brooke Pelczynski
Buying houses in Monopoly
The Spruce / Margot Cavin 
Monopoly houses
The Spruce / Margot Cavin 

House Rules Related to Houses and Hotels

House rules are informal rules that are agreed upon by the players before the beginning of the game. Monopoly players have come up with many house rules over the years; among them are a few that relate to a shortage of houses and hotels. They include:

  • Allowing the purchase of unlimited houses and hotels and using a replacement token (such as a coin) to represent the purchase after all the buildings have been purchased from the bank.
  • Allowing a player to purchase a hotel without first buying houses (when there are no houses available) by paying five times the purchase price of the hotel—the equivalent of buying four houses and then the hotel.